Richard Erdman

Janie (1944)

Janie 1944 PosterHortonville is a small, quiet town and that’s the way Charles Conway (Edward Arnold) likes it.  His hands are full enough with running a newspaper and trying to handle his teenage daughter Janie (Joyce Reynolds).  Charles just can’t make sense of all the modern slang he hears Janie and her friends using and doesn’t approve of the things she likes to go out and do with her friends.

But Hortonville gets turned upside down when the Army opens a base nearby.  Charles is horrified and writes an editorial about how all those soldiers are bound to distract all the teenage girls in town.  When Janie meets Private First Class Dick Lawrence (Robert Hutton), son of her mother Lucille’s (Ann Harding) friend, it’s love at first sight.  She gladly throws her boyfriend Scooper (Richard Erdman) aside for the more sophisticated soldier, but if Scooper can’t have Janie, he doesn’t want anyone else.

When her parents go out for a night, Janie plans to have Dick come over for a nice, quiet evening at her house.  Her friends, however, throw a wrench into her plans when they show up with their soldier boyfriends because they have no other place to go.  Not only that, Janie’s little sister Elsbeth (Clare Foley) keeps getting in the way so Janie gets Dick to escort Elsbeth to her grandmother’s house by bus.  While he’s gone, Scooper tries to sabotage Janie and Dick’s date by calling up the army base and telling them to send all the soldiers to Janie’s house for a party.  Luckily for Janie, April (Hattie McDaniel), the family’s maid, loves the soldiers and is happy to make hot dogs for all the guests.  Janie’s friends call all the girls they know and before she knows it, it turns into the biggest party Hortonville has ever seen.

Janie is nothing amazing, but it’s a very fun little movie.  I really liked how energetic the movie is; the party scenes had me wanting to get a hot dog from April and to join the conga line.  Janie is very much a product of its time, but I found it interesting to see a movie that is so much about teen life during that era.  The whole story of a party getting out of hand while a teen’s parents are away has been done in movies many times over the years, but Janie has got to be the most patriotic version of that story ever made. It’s a very pleasant comedy that deserves a little more recognition than it gets.